Confirm Responsibility for Knowledge and Value to Retain Undergraduates in Introductory Statistics
thesisposted on 2020-08-01, 00:00 authored by Kuan Xing
Learning statistics is challenging for many undergraduates who do not major in statistics. Their commitment to learning statistics is an important factor for their future academic attainment. This project was focused on exploring why undergraduates in their introductory statistics course should learn statistics by identifying three types of responsibility–responsibility to use conceptual statistical knowledge, responsibility to use procedural statistical knowledge, and responsibility for perceiving the utility value of statistics. Participants were randomly assigned to either a “full responsibility,” “knowledge responsibility,” or “undefined responsibility” group. Participants in the full responsibility group completed three responsibility primes – one focused on responsibility for using rudimentary conceptual statistical knowledge, one focused on responsibility for using rudimentary procedural statistical knowledge, and a third focused on responsibility for imagining the perceived utility value of statistics. Participants in the knowledge responsibility group completed only the knowledge primes. Participants in the undefined responsibility group completed none of those primes. All participants reported their commitment to learning statistics at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the semester. Reportedly, participants in the full responsibility and the knowledge responsibility group were more familiar with procedural statistical knowledge than conceptual statistical knowledge. At the end of the semester, participants in the full responsibility group tended to report stronger belief about persistence decisions and more likely attributed their success to effort while their counterparts in the knowledge responsibility group tended to report stronger belief about statistical ability, both compared with the undefined responsibility group. Across the semester, all participants reported stronger beliefs about success caused by ability and weaker beliefs about success caused by effort; they reported stronger beliefs about their failure caused by difficult task. Research findings indicated participants could distinguish their conceptual statistical knowledge from their procedural statistical knowledge and relate the value of statistics to their daily lives. Across the semester, their attributional beliefs could function as adaptive strategies for their retention in their statistics class.